Chowdah King Moresman Runs Best Evah Time at Cape Cod
(Photo: Bath, NY’s Bryan Morseman in the Sippewissett Hills at 19 Miles. All photos by FitzFoto/NERunner)
It’s not like Bath NY’s Bryan Moresman, 33, hasn’t been here before—“here” being the Cape Cod Half Marathon on Saturday preceding the full distance on Sunday. Morseman holds the Clam Chowdah Challenge record of 3:39:39 set in 2016, the same year he won the marathon in 2:30:01.
In 2014 he placed second to Eric Blake in the marathon and in 2017 he placed second to Eric Ashe, both after having run the half the day before. So ‘when the day before’ delivered howling winds and lashing rain, Morseman took a look at the heavy-duty men’s field and gracefully bid adieu.
“That,” said the father of three, “turned out to be a very smart decision. In those conditions to have to maintain the leg speed to stay with that group. Eric (Ashe) was up front early and he ended up in fifth. After two and a half miles I decided to save it for the marathon.” (The half was won in a course record 1:07:38 by St. Paul, Minnesota’s Dan Docherty. Garrett Kenyon of Beaver Dams, NY, was second in 1:08:37. Ashe placed 5th in 1:10:45.)
In overcast conditions with temperatures in the low 50s for the following day’s marathon start at 8:30 am, Morseman was at ease pressing down on the throttle early.
(Photo: Surf Drive at 24 Miles.)
“Sometimes you just get at it and see what happens. If you bomb, you bomb. I like to run out front, it’s where I’m most comfortable,” said Moresman, who hit halfway in N. Falmouth at 1:12:01 with a comfortable lead over Jason Ayr, 31, of Westfield, who hit the 13.1-mile mark in 1:15:23.
Ayr would run a negative split to shorten the gap on Morseman, and this was the plan going in. Both Ayr and NY native and former Providence College runner Samantha Roecker, 27, were to run the half marathon the day before but, as Roecker put it, “I definitely didn’t want to run in the rain.”
What would have been a comfortable 10K followed by a hard 10K in the half now became a moderate 10 miles followed by 10 miles of tempo in the full. “Tim Ritchie is the coach and when the distance changed I was ‘alright’”, said Ayr, “but in the Sippewissett Hills I was thinking maybe I should have told him about the course, the second 10 miles are a lot harder than the first 10.”
Roecker met Concord’s Isabella Caruso, 23, in the first mile and struck up a conversation. Caruso had a goal of running sub-3 and Roecker asked if she could tag along. “I told her I’d be leaving later on and she was fine with that so we had a lot of fun running together.”
To run negative splits on this course is impressive and both Ayr and Roecker did so, although it was well within their capabilities. Last year at the Hartford Marathon, Ayr ran 2:20:35 and Roecker an Olympic trials qualifying 2:38:11. The goal race for both is Cal Int’l in Dec.
Morseman didn’t run negative splits but he didn’t’ have to, his finishing time of 2:26:38 representing one of the faster performances here. “This is the last year for this course and I just ran my best time on it. I’ll take that. To run 2:26 here, that’s something, I’m obviously pretty pleased with it.”
Ayr followed in 2:28:46 with localite Stephen Garner of Yarmouth Port in third at 2:36:51. (Photo: Yarmouth Port’s Stephen Garner,)
Roecker would arrive in 6th overall in 2:53:03 and then waited for Caruso, who fulfilled her goal of going sub-3 in 2:58:16. “I’m happy for her, she hung in there,” said Roecker. “It’s a beautiful course, it was a really nice day and it all worked out fine so what more could you want?” (Photo: Falmouth’s Julianna Coughlin.)
Quick Outtakes: “The Great One” – course record holder Randy Thomas fired the cannon to start the race. While coaching at his alma mater (UMass-Amherst) Thomas ran 2:17:35 here in 1986. “I wanted the thousand dollar first prize. I had about $600 worth of parking tickets that I hadn’t paid. Jimmy Fallon was with me for five miles and then stopped to tie his shoe. I was feeling great so I took off. Bye-bye!” said Thomas who’d assume the coaching reins at BC in 1987.
(Photo: GBTC Great Bobby Hodge with Running Ambassador Tommy Leonard inside the Quarterdeck.)
After 35 years of the character building ‘Sippewissett’ course, first-year RD Jack Afarian will reveal a new, more coastally aligned out and back course for 2019. After having survived the weather mayhem of Saturday’s half, what’s another small project, huh? The new course will undoubtedly be faster but it will take some doing to eclipse the Event marks of Thomas and Cathy Shiro (O’Brien) who ran 2:37:06 the year after Thomas logged in at 2:17:35.
Following the marathon, beloved Eliot Lounge tap meister and Falmouth RR founder Tommy Leonard was “liberated” from the rest home where the 85 year-old now resides for an afternoon of holding court at the Quarterdeck where he was visited by athletes and friends from another era.